|Full Name||Aubrey Drake Graham|
|Birthday||October 24, 1986|
|Genre||Hip hop, R&B, Pop|
|First Album||Thank Me Later (2010)|
|Most Recent Album||Honestly, Nevermind (2022)|
|Social Profiles||Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube|
Influential musician Drake popularized singing and emotional vulnerability in hip hop, shattering records and shaping the sound of modern rap.
Early Life and Acting Career
Born October 24, 1986 in Toronto, Canada, Aubrey Drake Graham was raised by his white Jewish mother, Sandi Graham, after his black father left the family when Drake was 5. Though he had a bar mitzvah, Drake has said, "I‘m proud to be Jewish, but I have a spiritual side that is kind of a hodgepodge."
As a high schooler, Drake landed a role on the teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation, playing wheelchair-bound basketball star Jimmy Brooks. He appeared on Degrassi for eight seasons until leaving in 2009 to pursue his rap career full-time.
Mixtape Releases and Signing to Young Money
Drake released his first mixtape, Room for Improvement, in 2006 during his Degrassi days. Two years later, he dropped the breakout mixtape So Far Gone featuring his first hit "Best I Ever Had." The track peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning Drake some major label attention.
After becoming the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on BET, Drake signed with Lil Wayne‘s Young Money Entertainment in 2009. He later said, "I‘ve always really been a fan of Wayne‘s wordplay and how he structures his sentences. That‘s always been attractive to me to hear another artist do that."
From Teen TV Star to Chart-Topping Rapper
Drake‘s first studio album Thank Me Later debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in 2010, establishing him as one of rap‘s rising stars. His sophomore album Take Care won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2013, making Drake the first artist to win that award for a debut studio release.
With his third album Nothing Was the Same (2013), Drake perfected his fusion of R&B and rap. As Jon Dolan wrote in Rolling Stone, Drake "[spun] rap and R&B together more artfully than any artist since Usher." Chart-toppers like "Started from the Bottom" and "Hold On, We‘re Going Home" became instant classics.
Drake has since topped the Billboard charts with the mixtape-album If You‘re Reading This It‘s Too Late (2015), his fourth studio album Views (2016), the playlist-album More Life (2017), and the double album Scorpion (2018).
Record-Shattering Success and Global Stardom
Some key stats highlighting Drake‘s unprecedented success:
- Most Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits (45 songs)
- Most consecutive weeks on the Hot 100 (431 weeks and counting)
- First artist to have seven consecutive #1 singles on the Hot Rap Songs chart
- Most streamed artist ever on Spotify with over 49 billion streams
Drake has won 4 Grammy Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 27 Billboard Music Awards, 2 Brit Awards, and 3 Juno Awards. He even holds several Guinness World Records.
Today, Drake stands as an iconic figure in hip-hop culture. According to Shawn Setaro in Complex, "He is the only current star who can be credibly called the greatest rapper alive and the greatest singer alive."
Why Drake Resonates
Having followed Drake‘s career since the Degrassi days, here are some of the key reasons I believe he‘s struck such a chord:
- His candid lyrics touch on relatable topics like relationships, insecurities, fame, and more.
- He masterfully straddles rap and R&B, keeping his music fresh and unpredictable.
- His global perspective, tapping into dancehall, grime, Afrobeats and other sounds, has expanded hip-hop‘s boundaries.
- He‘s stayed true to his Toronto roots, putting the city on the map for rap music.
- His suave yet sensitive persona shatters stereotypes of rappers having to be hypermasculine.
Simply put, Drake makeslisteners feel understood through his insightful verses about ambition, success, and vulnerability. Combined with his sing-songy catchy hooks, he‘s created a blueprint for how to be effortlessly cool yet relatable in the social media era.